US Court rejects all appeals of Copyright Royalty Board ruling, ending two-year appeal of streaming royalties

It took more than two years: Webcasting music royalties are finalized for the 2021-2025 period. David Oxenford’s Broadcast Law Blog (HERE) reports:

“The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued a decision last week rejecting all of the appeals of the decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (“CRB”) setting the rates that noninteractive webcasters pay to SoundExchange for the digital public performance of sound recordings in the period 2021-2025″ –David Oxenford

David Oxenford

The every-five-year royalty setting process has been controversial in the past, and is always a battle of music owners vs. the streaming platforms which license music. In the U.S., royalty rates for non-interactive streaming are set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) which resides within the Library of Congress.

For the current 2023-2025 reporting period, the CRB raised the royalty rate from $00.21 per stream to $00.25. That ruling, which resulted from months of position paper submissions representing both streamers and music owners, was appealed by three parties.  The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) argued that its members (radio stations on the audio side) should pay a lower rate. In all such appeals, Sound Exchange advocates for higher rates on behalf of its music ownership clients.

“In setting rates, the CRB is supposed to determine what a willing buyer and a willing seller would agree to in a market transaction,” Oxenford explains. “Among the factors to be reviewed in making this determination is the degree to which the licensing of the recording substitutes for the sale or other monetization of the recording.”

All appeal arguments were rejected by the CRB. “The Court looked at each of the arguments and found that no party had provided sufficient record evidence to show that the CRB decision was clearly improper,” according to David Oxenford.


Brad Hill


  1. Hey Brad, not that it matters to the folks that are already paying and know this, but I think you’re missing a couple decimal places in the rate. It should be “$.0021 to $.0025”. Basically a quarter of a penny, not 25 cents per play. Thanks for the coverage!

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